Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Cutting off Parks' nose to spite its face

Via the Salemtown Neighbors e-list, Liberadio's Freddie O'Connell conveys his disappointment to courthouse leaders at hearing that Parks & Recreation center and program hours are on the chopping block without so much as a second thought:
I have been following closely the situation that has arisen with the Metro Parks budget this year, and while the overall problem is of great concern to me, so are the proposed cuts as I understand them. I haven't been able to determine whether all community centers will be automatically affected in terms of proposed cuts to hours, but I'm disappointed that there is a strong likelihood that centers will be forced to consider trimming hours, possibly closing one day per week mirroring the tragedy that befell the Main Library as a result of this year's budget.

I live within a few blocks of the Morgan Park Community Center, which has benefited recently from the addition of a new outdoor playground and near which a recently dedicated greenway spur was just just extended. The center is the hub of activity for at-risk and low-income youth in Nashville's North End. Many of my neighbors have been clamoring for extending the hours of the center to the weekend, as well as to stop the summer practice of abbreviating hours when school is not in session because of the heavy usage of the center when it is open.

Michael Smith, who directs the center, has a great rapport with the kids who use the center and provides excellent and innovative programming. I just volunteered at the center's annual Halloween celebration, which kept kids of all ages thoroughly engaged for hours before sundown on the eve of Halloween. Curtailing hours at the center would certainly send a message to the kids who use the center that opportunities for them are at the wrong end of the spectrum of the city's priorities.

I hope that the Parks Board and the Finance Director can work with Metro Council to discover a solution that would have a less dramatic impact on Nashville's neighborhoods and the kids who live in them in a time when economic duress is likely affording them even fewer opportunities for productive activities and fun than ordinary.
More details on closures and cuts in Metro parks after the jump.

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